It’s Halloween Eve. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” Shakespeare penned. Thursday evening it will look as though he were writing about us.
Most years I’m AWOL on Halloween. On the holiday apathy scale, I’m not quite at “Bah, humbug,” but hovering between “meh” and “blah.”
While in this mood and nodding off in a comfy chair, I heard a familiar voice fill the room — my own squeaky voice as a schoolboy. “Looooie,” it wailed, “why aren’t you trick-or-treating? I see you have a costume. And, by the way, what happened to our hair?”
“And where have you been all this time?” I countered. “Why’d you leave me so long ago?”
“Think back, old man. You abandoned me. You got all serious and responsible. Now answer my questions or I’ll give you a wedgie!”
“OK,” I said. “I don’t trick-or-treat. I’m past believing in ghosts and goblins, and door-to-door protection rackets aren’t my style. As for the hair, think of Pop and most of our uncles. What were our odds? And the patch isn’t a costume. Stuff happens.”
“You mean you get to wear it all the time?”
“Except in the shower.”
“Cool! Can I put it on?”
“You mean ‘May I,’ and in a way you’re already wearing it.”
“So, go out! Don’t just sit there on my butt. Go to a party! Give me something to look forward to.”
“Listen, Kid. I’m tired. You’ll understand when I … I mean when ‘you’ get older.”
“What are you, 90 or something?”
“Sixty-five,” I grumbled.
“Same thing. So, you’re old and decrepit. At least tell me that when we were in high school we made it to the moon in that rocket ship I built in the garage.”
“I hate to break this to you. I heard the same ‘We will go to the Moon’ president’s speech that you did. But he didn’t mean all of us. A dozen people did land there, but we ... I mean ‘I’ wasn’t among them.”
He seemed depressed by this, as I was. That cardboard spaceship I made in the garage from a refrigerator box had crayon switches and lights, and was taped together real good. The Guerin boys across the street had supplied a shoebox engine. I was sure at the time that the U.S.S. Frigidaire was a space-worthy vessel. In my capacity as the President of Mars, I was an expert on space travel. Five, four, three, two, one ...
Zero. No space travel. And, as it turns out, my Martian subjects didn’t provide the funding for the fuel, launchpad, and boxes of Ritz crackers, peanut butter and grape jelly needed for a lunar excursion.
“I’m deeply disappointed,” my younger self chided. “C’mon, old me, you’re looking the part. At least say what you and I know you want to say on Halloween.”
I had to oblige. “Arrrrgh, Matey!”
email@example.com hopes you’ll have a discussion with your younger self.